HENDERSON, Nevada – Baltimore Ravens backup quarterback Tyler Huntley didn’t ask for an invitation to the Pro Bowl Games, and he certainly didn’t expect the jokes that were told at his expense when he was named.
But that doesn’t mean Huntley would pass on trying to make the most of his opportunity.
Ridiculated by some for his addition as a replacement for the Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen, Huntley shook off the jokes and enjoyed the chance to rub shoulders with the game’s best players.
“It kind of feels like I’m in a movie right now,” Huntley said Thursday night after turning in a solid performance in the precision passing portion of the Skills Competition. “I’m still just taking it all in.”
Huntley, who started just four games and threw two touchdowns in relief of injured Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, got the nod when a series of AFC quarterbacks were unable to participate or declined to take part. The list included Allen; Patrick Mahomes, whose Kansas City Chiefs are in the Super Bowl; the Miami Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa, who only recently was cleared from the concussion protocol; and the Cincinnati Bengals’ Joe Burrow, whose team was eliminated Sunday in the AFC title game.
That prompted significant discussion on social media about whether Huntley belonged. But Huntley said he was able to avoid feeding into that conversation.
“I just look at my opportunities and where my life is headed,” he said. “I just appreciate everything that is going on. … I got to meet some of the legends. It’s just crazy how everything worked out.”
Among those legends: Ravens Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, who is serving as the AFC’s defensive coordinator. Lewis emerged from the locker room with his arm around Huntley and chatted with him as they made their way to the field.
Huntley finished second in the precision passing contest that requires quarterbacks to hit various targets to accumulate points. Huntley racked up 21 points, behind only Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, who crushed the event and finished with 31 points.
“It felt good,” Huntley said.
Carr’s performance was rather impressive, but it could have been the home-field advantage. The event, held at the Raiders practice facility, made Carr feel at home (even though he said afterwards that he still anticipates parting ways with the team in the coming weeks).
“I wanted that one so bad,” Carr said. “My goal today was to hit them all, so hopefully I’ll come back and do that at some point.”
Said AFC coach Peyton Manning: “This is his facility. I wanted him to go last. I knew he threw a lot of completions in here.”
Overall, the AFC owned the day.
Points scored in the skills competitions, which continue Sunday and will precede the flag-football portion of the week, will be rolled over into Sunday and will go towards determining the winning conference.
The AFC led 9-3 after winning the precision passing contest, the longest drive and the lightning round that included a series of challenges.
Been doing this since elementary school😎 https://t.co/127vtdj2kW
— marlonhumphrey.eth (@marlon_humphrey) February 3, 2023
Buffalo Bills safety Jordan Poyer won the longest drive competition with a 320-yard tee shot earlier Thursday. Vikings tight end TJ Hockenson was second with a 316-yard drive.
The NFC’s lone victory came in dodgeball.
Still to come Sunday: The continuation of the best catch competition, the gridiron gauntlet, kick tac toe, move the chains and the three flag football games.